The woman who infamously created a phony viral sob story about a homeless vet giving her the last $20 he had is going to suffer some very real consequences.
Katelyn McLure was ordered to serve one year in prison and then three years of supervised release at her sentencing hearing in a New Jersey courtroom on Thursday. She must also pay restitution for the hundreds of thousands of dollars she received using the GoFundMe fundraiser, which first went viral back in 2017.
As Perezcious readers will recall, we’ve covered the unbelievable story of this grifter, her boyfriend, and the homeless man in the past. Katelyn and her partner, Mark D’Amico, first hatched the plot five years ago. In a video, they claimed a homeless man named Johnny Bobbitt had given them his last $20 bill after Katelyn ran out of gas in the middle of the night.
What really happened, as prosecutors later discovered, is that the three of them had actually met a month before that at a casino in the Philadelphia area. Bobbitt was known to hang around outside the casino. According to prosecutors, the three of them got together and devised a plan to create a viral sob story about Bobbitt being down on his luck.
After posting the made-up tale about the $20 bill for gasoline on the fundraising site in 2018, donations poured in. More than 14,000 people donated almost $400,000 to the GoFundMe page made by the couple in Bobbitt’s name. The scheme may have gone off without a hitch, but greed got in between the co-conspirators. Bobbitt sued the couple in 2018, claiming they only shared part of about $75,000 with him. Instead, he alleged, they blew the rest of the cash on luxury items, new cars, casino trips, and things for themselves.
At a press conference on the matter back in 2018, prosecutors in Burlington County, New Jersey slammed the scheme, saying:
“The paying it forward story that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true. Unfortunately it was. The entire campaign was predicated on a lie. [McLure] did not run out of gas at an I-95 off ramp and he did not spend his last $20 to help her. D’Amico, McClure and Bobbitt conspired to pass off a fake, feel good story that would compel donors to contribute to their cause and it worked in a very big way but it was fictitious and illegal and there are consequences.”
The duo went on Megyn Kelly Today to recount their supposed “good deed” after it happened. D’Amico even pitched a book deal to profit further off the story. That never came to fruition, and after Bobbitt sued the couple regarding the sketchy finances, lawyers began looking deeper into the situation.
After uncovering bank statements, prosecutors determined that there was nothing left from the GoFundMe after McLure and D’Amico went through a whirlwind of spending. At least $9,000 was spent on paying back debts to family members. Another $20,000 was spent on credit cards in casinos. The couple purchased Louis Vuitton handbags, a new BMW, and they took multiple trips with the cash, including one to Las Vegas. Prosecutors were shocked to find they spent $89,000 worth of cash withdrawals “in or near casinos.” Jeez…
D’Amico — allegedly the mastermind behind the scheme — has already been dealt with in the legal realm. In 2019, he accepted a plea deal in Burlington County on fraud charges in the scheme. He was sentenced in April to 27 months in prison.
As for his role in the scheme, Bobbitt was given five years probation and ordered to enter a drug rehabilitation program. Next month, all three will be taken back to court to face state charges, too.
Wow! Justice served. We guess? There’s still the damage a lie like this does to the world.
Way back during his initial 2018 press conference about the case, Burlington County lead prosecutor Scott Coffina asked the public not to be skeptical about every online fundraiser:
“This type of case can damage the psyche of the public. It can make generous people skeptical and a little more hesitant to help someone else in need. I urge you not to let this happen.”
That may have been true at the time (and now), but man… it’s tough to still see only the good like that after seeing this situation play out.
Here is more on the sentencing (below):
Reactions, Perezcious readers??
[Image via CBS Philly/YouTube]
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